University Fitness Centre

KU Leuven - Faculty Physical Education & Physiotherapy


Surface area
KU Leuven
Stijn Bollaert

The gateway to the sports campus of the University of Leuven was a neglected and unpleasant place. A gymnasium from the 1930s with a more recent swimming pool and a fermette-style eatery were jumbled together haphazardly. A concrete access road closed off with automatic barriers ran past the buildings. 

With a single, clear gesture, the design for the new fitness centre added structure and character to the bleak location. 

The building is raised onto stilts above the road and stands perpendicular to the gymnasium.

The access road is no longer a rigid infrastructure element. It has been transformed into an urban forecourt, delineated by the facades of the gymnasium and the fitness centre. The latter becomes the gateway to the sports campus.

From the forecourt, the visitor has lines of sight to the sports grounds and the park behind. Room is provided under the building for a spacious, covered bicycle park. The fitness centre connects to the gymnasium stairwell. The showers and changing rooms of the gymnasium are shared facilities, thus cutting construction costs.

The building’s structure is straightforward. On top of a concrete ‘table’ stands a simple industrial span construction that consists of a repetition of wooden three-hinged arches.

The facade is clad in zinc. On both sides, large windows across the entire length overlook the forecourt and the campus. While exercising, the students are engaged in a game of seeing and being seen.